WHAT THE... now just hold on a stinking minute. Have you lost your ever-loving mind? Are you totally crazy? What could you have possibly be thinking? This is a mass murderer, a man who commissioned and planned the murders of men, women and children that refused to cow to his beliefs and demands. How in the world can you even entertain the idea of asking me to give a second chance to a... terroristic zealot like this man.
That was my internal conversation yesterday. Every time I looked at this picture I cringed inside. I even asked my friend Tanner, "do we offer a second chance even if it risks someones life?" Hey said "sometimes that is the price." Me: "that's a steep price." -end of conversation-
So today I was reading some of the comments about this man we know as Osama Bin-Laden. I watched recently the world rejoice at the death of this man. I myself was conflicted about that, I wonder what our reaction would have been if word had come out that Bin-Laden had laid down his weapons, and repented of his past acts, pledging a new life and a new tactic: peaceful resistance... I wonder how the the worl...how might I have reacted to that? How might you have reacted to a repenting terrorist?
The I think back to Acts 9: There was this dude back in the 1st Century that the bible says was breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples, and had obtained letters to seek out, arrest, and bring to account any who belonged to the Way. This guy Saul was what we would consider a terrorist. Yet while he was on his appointed rounds, Jesus has another idea of how to handle Saul...convert him! The reaction of the people of the Way was skeptical at best. Most would not believe that this man had changed, that this was all a clever scheme to infiltrate the Way and take out the leaders. One man named Ananias was told by God to go and see Saul and touch Saul, and baptize Saul. Ananias reasoned with God that surely this was a foolish mission, a trap. This Saul had warrants for the arrest of any Christian, even any one suspected of following this Christ. The Lord simply told Ananias to go.
How do you react to this story? Is your initial response to say, yes but Jesus called out this man Saul, by name. Do you think that God rejoiced at the killing of this man Bin-Laden? Or does God grant the opportunity of grace to all?
This is what I wrestle with when I see this picture, this image of a man with seemingly no respect for human life unless it fell lockstep in with him. I wrestle with the idea of a second chance for a man who killed, i wrestle with a second chance of the prisoners of Guantanamo, I wrestle with the possible parole of the kidnapper of a friends wife, I wrestle with the offer of grace to those who offend me, I wrestle with the hope of forgiveness to the coach who allegedly sexually assaulted young boys, I wrestle with kindness to those who violate my principles, I wrestle with extending grace to those that make it difficult, I wrestle with God over who might be saved.
So, take a minute today, pray then look at this image of a man who destroyed so many. Then ask God what he would have you do. What he would have you offer. Ask God if second chances are supposed to be this radical.